Tuesday, December 09, 2008

Gay Marriage - My 20¢

I don't know how many of you watch the Daily Show, but there was just a very compelling interview between John and Mike Huckabee. I wasn't aware of this before, but apparently Huckabee's against gay marriage (or if you prefer, in favor of protecting the sanctity of marriage). At any rate, the interview (which ended up being just shy of 20 minutes) got me thinking, and I decided I'd weigh in on the issue myself. (You might want to hit the restroom and grab something to eat, because this could take awhile)

Now, Mike Huckabee's argument, although flawed in my opinion, is grounded in sound logic. He's in favor of preserving the values that he and many Americans hold dear. By itself, this is certainly a reasonable position, and probably one I would hold myself if not for my affliction of the mind which causes me to think about everything from every possible angle. I'm not saying Huckabee's wrong, but that he's right about the wrong thing. Still with me? Cool.

The thing is, Huckabee's position basically says to me that he's not seeing the forest for the trees. Or the trees for the forest they make up. Whatever. The point is, by standing behind his values, the sanctity of marriage and by extension the family unit, he has inadvertently placed himself in direct conflict with another sacred value: the belief that all men are created equal. Again, I don't think less of him for it any more than would for a person who's for gay marriage, as they have thus abandoned the traditional definition of marriage.

The bottom line is, this issue is complex and difficult because it places two of our society's core values at odds. Sadly, this is one of those times when we can't have our cake and eat it too. A decision has to be made, and in my opinion, banning gay marriage is the wrong one.

It's a matter of priorities to me. Human freedoms in my mind are more important than protecting our age-old concept of marriage. Marriage is a great institution, but compared to our freedoms, it's just not worth defending anymore. For starters, marriage as an institution isn't as set in stone as people would like to think. As Stewart mentioned, there were times in human history when polygamy was the accepted norm. In the dark ages and beyond, marriage was more concerned with creating an economic agreement between two wealthy families than it was with the wishes of the two people being married. It was a simple means to an end, not a sacred union.

Then there is the simple fact that marriage's "sanctity" has been under attack for centuries already, and faced no opposition until now. People can get married in Vegas without getting out of their car. Is that sacred? People get married all the time to fuse their assets, or in the case of immigrants, they get married so they gain the right to stay in the country. Is that really sacred? And don't forget, a good 40-something percent of marriages end in divorce, often resulting in the family's finances being strained, their children emotionally scarred, and their overall bond as a family left all but dissolved. Is that really sacred?

I'm sorry, but the argument that marriage needs defending is akin to the argument that we should make greater efforts to save the Dodo from extinction. Marriage isn't sacred. It may be a nice symbol of the love two people for each other, and is a great step forward in their life together, but sacred? I'll allow that there may be individual marriages that are sacred, but taking the institution as a whole, accounting for its long and seemingly self-contradictory history, I have to say that marriage in general is not sacred.

Therefore, with the institution of marriage being a sadly un-sacred affair, it seems to me that the value we should be defending is the one that each and every one of us still holds sacred today: the notion that we are all equals, both in the eyes of God and the eyes of the law. There may yet be an argument that can prove humanity is not sacred, but I have yet to encounter it, and will firmly stand my ground as a member of the human race until I do.

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